“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, June 24, 1922, Toronto Daily Star and Toronto Star Weekly, Toronto, Canada

The newspaper’s freelance foreign correspondent, Ernest Hemingway, 22, former Chicago-an now living in Paris, has been getting his bylined pieces in the paper fairly regularly. Today there are two—his interview with the head of Italy’s National Fascist Party, Benito Mussolini, 38, in the Daily Star, and a more in-depth “think” piece about the impact of the strongman’s actions in the Star Weekly.

Benito Mussolini

Getting the interview involved more luck than planning. Hemingway was in Milan for a belated second honeymoon with his wife, Hadley, 30, so he could show her where he had served in the Red Cross ambulance corps during the Great War.

When Ernest heard that Mussolini was in town, he whipped out his press credentials and blagged his way into the offices of Popolo d’Italia, the newspaper which Mussolini founded eight years ago and still edits.

Hemingway was impressed with his fellow journalist/war veteran’s strength. In “Fascisti Party Half-Million,” he leads his profile with a description,

Benito Mussolini, head of the Fascisti movement, sits at his desk at the fuse of the great powder magazine that he has laid through all Northern and Central Italy and occasionally fondles the ears of a wolfhound pup, looking like a short-eared jack rabbit, that plays with the papers on the floor beside the big desk. Mussolini is a big, brown-faced man with a high forehead, a slow smiling mouth, and large, expressive hands…Mussolini was a great surprise. He is not the monster he has been pictured. His face is intellectual, it is the typical “Bersagliere” [Italian Army infantry] face, with its large, brown, oval shape, dark eyes and big, slow speaking mouth.”

Toronto Star building, 18-20 King Street

In his complementary commentary in the Star Weekly, Ernest focuses more on the dangers of the Fascisti’s rise. He points out that the Blackshirt movement “had a taste for killing under police protection and they liked it.” The lira is tanking; the Communists have formed an opposition movement called the Redshirts; and many Italian mafioso are rushing to emigrate to the States.

Hemingway concludes his piece: 

The whole business has the quiet and peaceful look of a three-year-old child playing with a live Mills bomb.”

You can read more of Hemingway’s Mussolini profile herehttps://thegrandarchive.wordpress.com/fascisti-party-now-ten-million-strong

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

In the fall, I will be talking about the centenary of The Waste Land in the Osher programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

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